The summer holidays are in full swing, and National Play Day is here!

Making time to play may not seem like a priority with weeks of free time and eager little faces raring to make the most of their holidays, but it’s important to remember the impact play can have on children.

Play Day Logo

Established in 1987, Play Day celebrates 30 years of campaigning to raise awareness for the importance of play

Considered essential for physical, mental, and emotional growth, play is also accredited for helping children acquire social and behavioural skills, as well as for assisting in intellectual and educational development. Play has in fact been considered a right, not a privilege, in the UK since 1991, when the government ratified the United Nations convention on children’s rights, stating that they ‘recognise the right of the child to rest and leisure, to engage in play and recreational activities appropriate to the age of the child, and to participate freely in cultural life and the arts’.

Despite knowing how important play is, it can still be a real struggle to set aside dedicated time when there are so many other priorities vying for their attention. To help, we’ve come up with five quick tips to help make time to play even easier.

Children play tug of war

Reserve some tech-free time

Put your phone on silent (or better yet, switch off completely) and take some time to focus on doing something fun with the kids; painting, baking, an outdoor woodland adventure, a trip to the local park - it doesn’t have to be big or pre-planned. Try asking them what they want to play. Finding it tough to pry them away from their screens? Get outside where the wi-fi is weak and start exploring together. If you have one nearby, National Parks can be a great place to start.

Turn boring things into fun times

Getting stuck in traffic is never fun. Getting stuck with the kids in tow can be even more trying. Whether it’s a trip to the local shops or a longer journey, make the ride go faster with some classic car games. We suggest building a list of family favourites you can fall back on whenever the need strikes to avoid endless hours of ‘I Spy’.

Children chase a ball in the park

Finding a balance

Homework, chores, and after school clubs are all important, but so is making sure that they still have time to play. Is there any homework that they’re having particular trouble with? Try reading together, or get them to talk through their homework with you to see where they may be finding things tricky. Making sure that they still have time outside of homework, sports practice, or extra school activities is important for their physical and emotional health.

Sit back and relax

Making time for them to play doesn’t mean you have to be running around with them non-stop. If you want to stay nearby for safety reasons, try taking a book or paper with you and grab a few minutes to unwind as they play. More time for you, more time for them!

Family Bike Ride

Choose sustainable, affordable activities

Playtime doesn’t have to be expensive. Sure, indoor play areas and holiday activity schemes are great, but consider other options close to home (and easier on your wallet). Local parks and playgroups can be packed full of fun and adventure for kids of all ages. Live a little further away from your nearest park? Why not ditch the car and take a family bike ride together.

National Play Day aims to highlight the importance of play for children, families, and local communities across the UK. Coordinated by Play England, Play Wales, Play Scotland, and PlayBoard Northern Ireland, Play Day is a celebration of children’s right to play. August 2nd 2017 marks Playday’s 30th anniversary, with thousands of children and their families expected at hundreds of community events in parks, forests, local playgrounds, and community spaces across the country.

Originally inspired by rumours of cuts to school-based play centres and playgrounds in London, Play Day went on to become a national campaign seeking to raise awareness of the importance of play in the lives of children, as well as the negative impact cutting local play services would have on families and communities. In 2016, over 850 events took place nationwide to celebrate Play Day. We hope you have a great time playing today!

How do you make time to play? We’d love to hear from you over on our @happifulkids Twitter account!